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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Elizabeth Kahn

Kahn, Elizabeth (2019). A structural approach to the human right to just and favourable working conditions. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 22(7): 863-883.

Author(s) from Durham


The human right to just and favourable working conditions offers a promising way of articulating the injustice suffered by workers who toil in substandard conditions. However, if we take seriously the objection that, for many workers living in poor countries, neither their employer nor their government can responsibly fulfil the right at this time, we may be tempted to reject the idea that there can be such a right. In response to this problem, this paper proposes a structural understanding of the right, according to which the right requires a social structure in which no person is vulnerable to accepting work under conditions that are not just and favourable. This approach takes the right as outlining how social structure must be as a matter of fundamental justice. This is in contrast to the standard claim-based understanding, which requires that for there to be a human right it must be the case that for every human we can identify an agent whom their claim is against, specify what the claim requires, and show that fulfilment of the claim constitutes the fulfilment of the right and is in fact owed to the right-holder.